Addressing health disparities in underserved communities

Capital One is supporting efforts to improve healthcare equity in underserved communities.

Across the nation, health disparities are growing. Communities of color, populations with a lower socioeconomic status, rural communities, people with cognitive and physical disabilities and individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are often disproportionately exposed to conditions that negatively affect health risks and outcomes. Known as social determinants of health, factors like genetics, lack of access to quality care and food, language barriers and more contribute to these inequities.

Health disparities ultimately affect economic outcomes. According to a 2018 study by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Altarum, health disparities cost $42 billion in lowered productivity and $93 billion in excess medical costs each year.

Capital One is committed to investing in communities across the United States to advance socioeconomic mobility by creating more equitable conditions. Through the Capital One Impact Initiative, we have and will continue to support access to quality healthcare resources in underserved and underrepresented communities.

The impact of health disparities on underserved communities

Communities that face disparities often suffer economically due to factors like inadequate education and healthcare services, lower property values and vacant commercial and manufacturing properties. These areas are often passed over by private investors, making it difficult to gain capital to revitalize the community.

The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program was established in 2000 to help economically distressed communities attract private capital by offering a federal tax credit to entities that make qualified equity investments. Administered by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, the program encourages economic revitalization through private investments in low-income communities. Since 2006, total Capital One investments in this program exceed $3 billion.

Hosting accessible healthcare conversations

At Capital One, our associate-led Middle Market Bank Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Council is committed to increasing the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse associates at all levels. As part of its mission, the council hosts bi-monthly discussions to promote continuous learning among associates about diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging topics, while cultivating a safe space for vulnerable and honest conversations.

Earlier this year, the DIB Council invited two leading health experts to discuss healthcare disparities in underserved populations: Chief Diversity Officer Deborah Grimes from Ochsner Health and President and CEO Michael Horne from Parkland Foundation.

During the event, Grimes and Horne discussed common healthcare disparities, including lack of access to care and underrepresentation of minorities in the healthcare industry. “We expand our understanding of health to take into account social and economic factors that ultimately impact someone’s ability to live a healthy or thriving lifestyle,” said Horne.

Chief among their insights was how health disparities are a shared impact for all people, adding stress to the entire healthcare system, increasing costs and affecting the provision of services for everyone. “Health disparities and healthcare equity are not just minority problems. They really impact our society. Stress on the health system causes stress on all of us,” said Grimes.

Insights shared during the event included:

  • Access to quality and affordable healthcare impacts all age groups. Employing personal healthcare advocates and taking resources (like mental health education or COVID-19 vaccine centers) into communities without access to them may help address disparities in physical and mental health.
  • Minorities are vastly underrepresented in the healthcare industry. Mentoring and early exposure to all areas of the healthcare field to stimulate interest are potential ways to improve minority engagement in healthcare professions.
  • Disparities and their effects may be eased by re-allocating resources. Enabling early outreach, increasing healthcare access, spreading education and emphasizing illness prevention can help create more economically thriving communities and healthier populations to support them.

Collaborating with community leaders and healthcare providers to improve health outcomes

Capital One’s work to address health disparities is a critical extension of its larger commitment to advancing racial equity, including work through the Capital One Impact Initiative. Launched in 2020, the Impact Initiative is a $200 million multi-year commitment delivering community grants that will catalyze economic growth in low-and-moderate income communities and close equity and opportunity gaps.

In addition, our NMTC program has invested in healthcare projects that have served more than 100,000 low-income patients, supporting access to quality care and resources. These investments include multi-year financial support for Ochsner Health’s workforce development program, which aims to accelerate economic mobility and position Ochsner as an employer of choice for all populations. We’re also providing new investments in Parkland Hospital, supporting the communities it serves.

Capital One believes in a future that’s inclusive, equitable and full of opportunities. By continuing to use our scale and resources to address disparities, economically revitalize underserved communities and partner with organizations that align with our vision, we can help foster a world where everyone has an equal opportunity to prosper.

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